Life-hacking in the NYT

An insightful article in the NYT about life hacking. The article begins by summarizing the work of Gloria Mark who studied office work and came up with an atrocious description of how people work (or can't work):

When Mark crunched the data (...) Each employee spent only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do something else. What's more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading a Web page or working on a spreadsheet. And each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task. (...) Yet while interruptions are annoying, Mark's study also revealed their flip side: they are often crucial to office work. (...) If high-tech work distractions are inevitable, then maybe we can re-engineer them so we receive all of their benefits but few of their downsides. Is there such a thing as a perfect interruption?

And all of this leads to Danny O'Brien and Merlin Mann who are doing a terrific job blogging about life hacking (see 43folders, it's the best resource about life hacking)

In essence, the geeks were approaching their frazzled high-tech lives as engineering problems - and they were not waiting for solutions to emerge from on high, from Microsoft or computer firms. Instead they ginned up a multitude of small-bore fixes to reduce the complexities of life, one at a time, in a rather Martha Stewart-esque fashion.

Why do I blog this? this article is a great piece about office work troubles and potential solutions (aka life hacking + common stuff like 'calm technology' and so forth), there is a good summary of past research (academic) and geeky solutions that are tremendously useful.